Meat industry braced for more snow

Another Arctic blast will arrive in the UK this week, forecasters have warned, as farmers and meat producers brace themselves for more snow and bitterly cold temperatures.

With many areas only just getting over the snowstorms from earlier this month, another band of snow is set to sweep down across the country on Thursday. Temperatures will also fall as low as -10˚C (14˚F), with bitter winds blowing in from the north.

The worst-hit areas are forecast to be north-east Scotland and north-east England, which were among the hardest-hit regions over the past two weeks. A clutch of industry bodies, including the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), Defra and Quality Meat Scotland, have issued guidelines on how to cope with the snowy weather.

One farmer told Meat Trades Journal that there was concern north of the border regarding lamb breeding. The bad weather is having an impact and it is thought this could lead to a prolonged lambing season and a shortage of supply.

The NFU said it welcomed moves by the Scottish authorities to allow the off-farm usage of red diesel and the relaxation of haulage driving hours. It has also lobbied for the livestock feeding rules in agri-environment schemes to be relaxed.

Natural England has agreed a derogation for livestock farmers, which means that scheme payments will not be jeopardised by the supplementary feeding of grazing stock when the ground is snow-covered or frozen. A temporary lifting of the restrictions was also put in place by Natural England earlier this year, when the country was in the grip of similar freezing conditions.

Meanwhile, Bpex has issued a document advising pig producers what to do if the big freeze does return. It has urged producers to ensure all pigs are fed if the feed line freezes or if accessibility is reduced and it wants businesses to consider how to manage road access for feed deliveries if there is ice or snow and how to maintain water supply to pigs if pipes freeze.

Commenting on the weather Andy Ratcliffe, of the MeteoGroup, said: “A cold front, moving south across the UK, will give rain initially, but it will turn to snow on its back edge.”

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